Saturday, February 4, 2017

No crumble Granola Bars

Submitted by Marcia Van Camp
inspired by

2 1/2 cups quick oats (I like Quaker Oats)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped chocolate covered almonds (I like Blue Diamond)
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup unsalted butter 
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup dates coarsely chopped


1. Put the dates in a small bowl and add about 1 tablespoon of water.  They are nice and sticky and adding the water will help spread the stickiness around and keep the bars together. 

2. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the oats and almonds and mix with a spoon. Using a jellyroll pan, lay down a silicone liner and spread the oats and nuts evenly. If you don't have a silicone mat, line the pan with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.

3. Bake 5 minutes, stir and bake another 3 to 5 minutes until lightly toasted. Transfer to a large bowl.

4. Combine butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla extract and the salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until butter melts and the sugar completely dissolves.

5. Pour butter mixture into the large bowl with toasted oats and almonds. Add the dates (with water) and mix well. 

6. Spray a 8x8 glass cooking pan with cooking spray and put the mixture into the pan. Press the mixture down evenly for at LEAST one minute.  You can use a rubber spatula or your fingers or both!

7. Cover then refrigerate at least 2 hours. Remove block of granola mixture from pan (it can seriously come out all at once because it sticks together so well) cut into the desired length and width you desire. 

8. Store bars in an airtight container for up to one week. For the softest bars, keep at room temperature. For slightly harder bars, store in the fridge.

The original recipe called for cranberries and chocolate chips but I like the chocolate covered almonds because I get the flavor without the melting and mess.  I had also read another blog that mentioned dates really help everything stick together and I like the way they taste.  Using something else like cut up cranberries or raisins with water might work well too, I just haven't tried it.  You can probably try adding other things, I was mostly just using what was on hand.  

Happy Snacking!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Dinner in a Pumpkin

Submitted by Marcia Van Camp
Inspired by

  • 4-6 small pumpkins, about 4" in diameter
  • 1 tbsp oil or butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms (we used baby bella)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (we used dark)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce (we used low sodium)
  • 4 cups cooked rice, white or brown

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil.
  • Thoroughly wash and dry the outside of the pumpkins.
  • Cut the top off the pumpkins and clean out the pulp and seeds. Place the pumpkins on the baking sheet. Save the tops.
  • In a large skillet, sauté onion and mushrooms in oil or butter. Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Drain the grease from the beef. Add salt and pepper.
  • In a large bowl, mix soup, brown sugar, and soy sauce. Add ground beef mixture and cooked rice.
  • Empty bowl into the cleaned out pumpkin and replace pumpkin top.
  • Bake for 1 hour on the lower rack of the oven, or on the rack where the pumpkins can be most centered in the oven.
  • After 1 hour, remove the tops and check the sides of the pumpkins for doneness. The outside of the pumpkins will turn a dark orange, and the inside of the pumpkins should be tender and easily scoop off the sides with a spoon. If the inside of the pumpkin is still not fully cooked, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the pumpkin. Sometimes I've cooked the pumpkin as long as an hour and a half before it is ready. Using hot pads, place the pumpkin onto a serving plate, remove the lid, and stir. Be sure to scoop off chunks of cooked pumpkin into the casserole as it is served. That's the best part!
Notes: The original recipe was not for smaller pumpkins but I thought they were more fun in these individual serving sizes.  Also, instead of making the stuffing and then baking it in the pumpkins, I baked the pumpkins while I made the stuffing to save on time.  When everything was cooked, I put the stuffing in the pumpkins and thought they tasted great. Originally, this recipe also called for water chestnuts but we left those out. I think shredded carrots would probably be a good addition. 

One-Bowl Chocolate & Orange Cake


  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 Tbsp.
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder (such as Guittard or Droste), sifted if lumpy
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • Large pinch ground cloves
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and cooled
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp. finely grated orange zest
  • ¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • Powdered sugar

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray the bottom and sides of one 9×2-inch round cake pan with baking spray. Line the bottom of the cake pan with a circle of parchment paper. Spray parchment with baking spray.
  • In a large mixing bowl stir together the 1¼ cups flour, the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cloves, and ½ tsp. salt. Add melted butter, eggs, orange zest and juice, buttermilk, and vanilla; whisk the mixture until batter is smooth. Toss chocolate chips with remaining 1 Tbsp. flour. Using a rubber spatula, fold chocolate chips into the batter. Transfer batter to the prepared cake pan.
  • Bake about 1 hour or until the cake is firm to the touch. Cool in pan on wire rack. Run a table knife around edge of pan. Invert (you might need to give the pan a little whack). Peel off parchment; invert cake. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Each serving 439 cal, 21 g fat, 79 mg chol, 344 mg sodium, 64 g carb, 4 g fiber, 7 g pro.
Notes: I saw this recipe in Better Homes and Gardens and made it in Jan 2017.  It was really good but I think the next day it was better because the orange taste was stronger.  Also - using parchment paper is a good idea as the directions indicate because it really does help it not stick to the pan. I thought it would have been good with some candied oranges on the top or something colorful. 
The directions above are from this website but I am pretty sure they are referencing the BHG recipe.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Maple Salad Dressing

Submitted by Lanni Brisson
Official Name: Apple, Dried Cherry, and Walnut Salad with Maple Dressing

From: Mountain Town Station Brewing Company and Steakhouse, Mount Pleasant, MI

Yield: Makes 6 servings

Maple Dressing ingredients:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tbls Champagne vinegar or other white wine vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Maple Dressing instructions: 
Whisk all ingredients but oil to blend.  Gradually whisk in oil until mixture thickens slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  (Can be prepared 3 days in advance, cover and refrigerate and re-whisk before using)

Salad ingredients:
(1) 5oz bag of mixed baby greens (about 10 cups lightly packed)
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into matchstick-size strips
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Salad instructions:
Toss greens, apples, and 1/4 cup of walnuts in large bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat.  Divide salad equally among plates and sprinkle with the remaining walnuts.

Notes: You may decide to leave the walnuts on the side in case of nut allergies

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Chicken Cordon Rouge

Created by Casey Van Camp

Ingredients / tools:
2 boneless chicken breasts
smash them
8 slices of your choice of cheese. (we like fresh mozzarella)
12 slices of black forest ham
8 pieces of roasted red peppers
Panko or Italian Breading
(makes 4 servings)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2. Cut each breast in half (fillet style).  Take a piece and lay it on a cutting board and cover the piece with plastic wrap.  Use a mallet (smooth side) to flatten out the chicken which will make it easier to roll.  Repeat with each piece of chicken
3. Sprinkle salt and pepper onto the chicken breasts
4. Place 2 slices of cheese, then 3 slices of ham, then 2 roasted red pepper slices on each breast.
5. Roll up the breasts and secure with toothpicks (3 to 4 should be ok)
6. Place the breasts on a cooking sheet which has been sprayed to avoid sticking
7. Generously sprinkle Panko breading on each of the breasts
8. Cook for 40 min or until the chicken is cooked through

Notes: We also like using Pepper Jack cheese

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Chocolate Moose

Submitted by Marcia Van Camp

Today I had to make chocolate moose for a large group of people and most recipes I came across were fairly complicated or required the moose to sit overnight.

This is my easy moose recipe, there might be better ones out there, but I have always gotten smiles and requests for seconds with this one.

Hershey's Syrup (24 oz)
1 quart heavy whipping cream
Cool Whip or similar (optional)

1. Mix the syrup and whipping cream together in a good blender.  I have a Ninja blender which worked really well.  I had the blender on a low setting for less than a minute and the moose was well mixed and dense.  I have also used a Magic Bullet for smaller portions which has worked well in the past.

2. If you want your moose to be darker / have more chocolate, you can add more syrup, but I would taste as you go, because it's pretty sweet already.

3. Keep refrigerated until you are ready to serve.  If it gets too soupy you can even blend it again if needed, but I have never had to do that.  You can also add a little whipped cream to the top, or maybe a cookie, which is tasty and cute.  My cookie of choice is a Thin Mint, but it's rare that I would have any around the house that I was willing to part with!

4. This yields about 6 cups of moose, and since it's rich, smaller portions work very well.  These are the dishes I like to use, and they are less than 3 oz.

Magic Bullet directions

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Oreo Cheesecake

Submitted by Marcia Van Camp
Inspired by:

24 Oreo Cookies
3 Tbl butter melted (I used unsalted)
3 (250g) packages of cream cheese softened (I use Philly)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs

Special Instructions: 
1. I lined the bottom of the pan with parchment paper to avoid sticking.  If you don't know how to do this, there are a lot of great videos online.

2. My cheesecake had large cracks in it when it came out of the oven, and I look up ways to fix it. The best method was getting a spatula a little wet and smoothing over the cracks.  This could have been easily covered up with some decorations but I still would like to avoid it in the future.  I have seen a few things online about giving the cake a "water bath" basically cooking it with water surrounding it, so I may try that next time and see if it makes a difference.

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Crush 16 cookies which will become the crust.  The original directions say to do this in a bag but I found it very messy because a lot of the cookies stuck to the inside of the bag.  I had better luck with putting the cookies in a bowl and crushing them with a drinking glass. The method doesn't really matter, as long as they get crushed!

2. Place crushed cookies in bowl. Add butter; mix well (a small spoon works fine). Press firmly onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan.

3. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Chop or crush remaining 8 cookies. Stir the cookies into the batter. (I was supposed to keep some out for decorating the top, but I just put them all in the batter)

4. Bake 45 min. or until center is almost set. Cool and refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. After eating more than you probably should...Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.

Notes: It would also be fun to make mini cheesecakes with this recipe in cupcake pans but I think you would need more crushed Oreos for the crusts.  On the other hand, you could just buy the Oreo thins and split them up and use those without crushing anything.   I think I would drizzle some chocolate sauce over this next time or put some whole Oreos or even a few strawberries in the middle for decoration.